One of my favourite dates on the calendar is undoubtedly Bonfire Night, also known in the UK as Guy Fawkes Night. Whilst Hallowe’en is not really my bag these days I have a real aversion to New Year’s Eve and Hallowe’en due purely to revulsion at the sight of excessive street-vomit there’s no better signalling of winter than the 5th November each year. It’s always freezing where I live by the time it comes around, and after Bonfire Night is when I start looking forward to Christmas. Winter really did seem to hit us yesterday, with that first unmistakable, nose-redenning crispness in the air all day yesterday, which means scarves and gloves at the ready.
An interesting historical tradition, Bonfire Night commemorates the anniversary of the date when Guy Fawkes and his Catholic team of early terrorists who sought to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, known creatively as The Gunpowder Plot, hoping to assassinate the Protestant king, James I of England and VI of Scotland it gets my Scottish goat whenever he’s simply referred to as James I: he was King of Scotland first, coming after FIVE OTHER JAMESES! Lots of Jameses up here. Needless to say the attempt failed, and the celebration of the attempt became very popular in the century as an act of appreciating the monarchy and evidence of thwarting the attempts of the Catholic rebels, who were largely ostracised in Britain at the time. Over time the overly-monarchical and anti-Catholic connotations faded and are non-existent in the celebrations today, meaning whatever your religion or level of republicanism, we can all enjoy beautiful fireworks to our hearts’ content.
This year, my boyfriend Chris and I were joined by my brother Peter to watch the fireworks. We’re lucky to have one of the two organised displays in our city just twenty minutes’ walk or so away, which are always pretty good, if a little cheesy music-wise. The two displays, on opposite sides of the city, are exactly the same and synchronised, and it was very cool to occasionally see a firework emerging on the other side of the Dundee Law the big hill that our city is effectively built on. As always I really enjoyed the display, there’s just something about letting your mind wander watching bright bursts of colour in the sky, feeling warm despite the cold due to
multiple layers. And it was a lovely night for it too; very cold but dry and really clear. It would probably help explain how busy the park was this year. I made a quick video of some of the display we saw please excuse the creepy silhouettes that appear at one point: that’s just the poorly-lit Chris and Pete!
Part of the reason I love Bonfire Night so much is because it also means STOVIES. It’s nearly impossible to find a definitive recipe online – here’s just one example – as it’s a dish essentially meant for leftovers: you can chuck anything in. It’s one of those recipes each family seems to have their own version of, and any divergence from that is WRONG. Basically, you want lots of turnip, potatoes both cooked to a near-mashed consistency, onions and some sort of meat. Last year was the first winter Chris and I were together and I made stovies which he’d never had before – the horror using mince. Chris loved stovies so much that he now has them whenever they’re on a cafe menu, and this year it was his turn to make them, but he went a bit overboard and filled our 5-litre casserole pot with stovies complete with steak mince, gammon and steak sausages! These are traditionally served with delicious rustic oatcakes but this year we opted for par-baked mini baguettes. It seemed mad but, believe me, after waiting half an hour to get out of the park due to a never-ending bottleneck at the gates, they were a welcome treat.
What do you do on Bonfire Night? Also, let me know if you’d like to see me and Chris’s stovies recipes! ☺️